This is the story of Sister Rasheeda, please raise your hands and make dua for her:
When you are a wife and your husband is a drug addict life passes you by in cycles and circles.We think back to every time when just before Ramadan we are ready to kick them our or leave ourselves. But then we hope this Ramadan will be the year that they give up once and for all. We sit there on the day of Eid, looking at every ones Facebook uploads of happy family times and our mind goes back to 11 months and 355 days before when we remember the last Eid when we shed tears and we wish we had left him afterall. You remember every Eid day that was spoiled and every dark cloud that was caste over that day because he relapsed. We think back to every parents evening when last year we toyed with the idea of not telling our husbands about it because we were afraid they would turn up looking a mess, saying something strange or the teachers expression would falter for that brief moment. We think about the anniversary of when we found out they were using drugs, when our world fell apart and we say “another year”. Every birthday, every school holiday, even every non Muslim festival like Halloween and Christmas. We remember this time last year things were the same.
We find letters that we wrote to our addict 8 years ago telling him how his drug use makes us feel. We tell them we love them but they need to stop, that we cannot take it much longer. Then we look at the date and we say to ourselves “I could have written that today”.
We kick them out in a moments burst of energy and confidence in ourselves and Allah’s permission and we remember ‘hang on a minute this time last year I did the same’. And then I let him back in, only for him to start using again. We gave them the benefit of the date. “Relapses can be helpful if the addict learns from what went wrong” say the experts. Shame the addict does not read the book.
We think about all the times they went and got help, rehab, raqi’s, day programmes, counselling, fellowship meetings and they were clean for a while and our hopes went high and our relationships with our husbands improved. Our defenses went down and we even risked a smile or two. And then they relapsed. And the cycle begun again and these cycles of help seeking, abstience and then falling became cycles in themselves, usually prompted by an ultimatum by the wife of the addict – you and me – when we just could not take it any more.
So what does it feel like when you can’t take his addiction anymore? This is what it is like for me. This is my rock bottom.
Driving my car, in a daze, I saw a tree. ‘What if I was just to drive into that tree. Not too fast maybe 30 miles per hour. That’s all. No I don’t want to die. I just want to be knocked out for a while. Just maybe in a little light coma for a few days. Just enough to take me out of this world for a while and maybe even scare my addict enough to know what it could be like to lose me.’ What is this mad thinking? This is the mad thinking of the wife of an addict. This is my rock bottom.
Stupid stupid me. ‘You let him back. You don’t deserve any better.’ I lie in bed at night fighting the shaitan who shows me pictures in my mind of just snipping my skin with scissors. I see myself squeezing out some of my own blood, just to relieve the pressure. I say “authoo billahi min ashaytaanir rajeem” (I seek refuge in Allah from the Devil, the outcast). I try to knock the thoughts away by shaking my head, spitting over my left shoulder and trying to breathe deeply. I do my ayat al kursi (verse from the Quran known to help ward of the evil from the unseen world). The urge to rip my skin comes again. I scratch it a little with my finger nails. It isn’t enough to fight the urge. I stop and pray again. I feel so low and desperate. Is this how my addict feels when he fights the urge to use drugs? I make it through the night without hurting myself but the feelings of lowliness and depression sink in.
Another reason I know I have sank to my lowest point is when I shouted upwards to Allah “Why? Why Allah have you done this to me. I don’t want this test. Haven’t I suffered enough?” Never in my 36 years of my life have I ever questioned Allah, shouted at Him, worse of all been angry at Him. I have bore every single test with trust in Him, patiently awaiting the ease, praying and crying to Him for help and support. The day I looked up and had anger in my heart towards my Creator was the day I knew I had reached my rock bottom.
I don’t want to die but I don’t want to live. This is the dark thinking living with an addict has caused. I just need to add two words to that sentence to make things a little more bearable. I don’t want to live like this. My kids need me. I need me. Allah has a purpose for me.
So I can’t change my addict – never will control something he cannot control himself. But I can change my ‘like this’. Who says ‘this’ has to be ‘like this’. I know what this needs to look like and I know what I want and that has what has kept me stuck in this situation for all these years. 12 years to be exact. 12 years of cycles and circles. And when you go round in circles it only creates dizziness, disorientation, nausea and feet that can no longer stand firm. So here is my vision that has kept me stuck.
Me, my kids, my husband all sitting smiling around the dinner table. He doesnt have ‘an errand to run’ or a reason to go out. He stays, we laugh, we enjoy eachother. And there is no drugs. No using. No smelling of smoke. No bits of foil. No money going missing. No crack pipes. No slurred speech, no half open eyes. No stupid comments that make no sense. No erratic behaviours. No bailiffs. No dealers texts. No police cautions. No paraphernalia. No arguments besides the usual ones like who’s turn it is to empty the dishwasher. I tell myself. that if the drugs were not in our life then life would be close to perfection. And those weeks here or there when he hasn’t used, its pretty close.
But only my husband can make that vision come true. Only he can choose to stop using drugs once and for all. Meanwhile, why should I be the passenger on his ride of self destruction. Why should he take me down with him. I choose to get off the ride and stop being a passenger on this never ending loop the loop, going round in circles, just waiting to fall and hit the ground hard.
I choose another life. I do not know what that is today but Allah Knows. And with a good pure intention only His Mercy and Help can rain upon me. So today I make istikara (seeking Allah’s counsel and direction)
O Allaah, I seek Your guidance [in making a choice] by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things. O Allaah, if in Your knowledge, this matter (then it should be mentioned by name) is good for me both in this world and in the Hereafter (or: in my religion, my livelihood and my affairs), then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge it is bad for me and for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs (or: for me both in this world and the next), then turn me away from it, [and turn it away from me], and ordain for me the good wherever it may be and make me pleased with it.”
(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 6841; similar reports are also recorded by al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa’i, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah and Ahmad).